May 18, 2023
House Ways and Means Committee hearing on health care price transparency
On May 16, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing entitled "Health Care Price Transparency: A Patient's Right to Know," aimed at examining how a lack of transparency in America's health care system increases costs and prevents patients from being effective health care shoppers. Witnesses included employer, provider, government, health technology and think tank representatives.
During the hearing, there was some bipartisan agreement on the need to increase transparency and ensure compliance with recent transparency regulations, however there was a fundamental disagreement on the way forward and the limitations to these efforts. Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) and several other Republicans, for example, extolled the virtue of reforms including expanding tax-advantage health accounts, which they said combined with transparency can help families plan and better direct their dollars in a way that suits their needs. On the other hand, Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) said that putting the burden on the patient to "shop" for medical care when a lot of care is not shoppable and many are unable to afford or save for care is not helpful in addressing the root causes of high prices and only exacerbates inequities.
Witnesses discussed various payment and care delivery models aimed at injecting transparency and reducing administrative burden and complexity to drive down prices and improve access to care. This included models such as Direct Primary Care (DPC), transparent health plans like Sidecar Health, and all-inclusive and transparently priced surgical centers. Other panelists discussed how transparency efforts including access to cost, claims and quality data can be leveraged to drive patients to lower-priced and higher-quality providers, cautioning that much work remains including improving data accuracy and utility. The Democratic witness, however, spoke about the limitations to price transparency and fundamental flaws in our system, noting that health care entities are favored by non-market-driven opportunities and advocating for an all-payer approach and other fundamental changes to the system, in addition to improved transparency on cost and outcomes.
More information is available here.
Additional information is also available in the attached Tax Alert.
Hearing on health care price transparency